Parenting in 2015: with a little online help

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It’s hard to recall what my life was like before the internet.   If I have a question about a rash, or a recipe, or how long it’ll take me to get downtown, or want the latest information on the Broncos, I don’t have to wait.  I simply use my search engine, and voila!  The information I need is at my fingertips.

9780761148579_p0_v2_s260x420 Since my youngest son is now 20, I remember when getting information as I do now wasn't so easy.  In addition to hanging out with great moms and checking in with my own mother, I relied on  What to Expect When You're Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff.  She wrote that book and several others about early childhood parenting when she couldn't find answers to her questions during her first pregnancy. Those books lived on my nightstand and I devoured the information.

I'm sure new mothers still read books and talk with their own mothers and family members for ideas on how to handle situations like, 'why does my child throw his food off the high chair?' But if you don't like what your family member or friend has to say, go online and find people who think like you do. Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 3.48.58 PM I did just that and Google tells me there are more than 23 million results for controlling a food-flinging baby. I stopped reading six pages into the topic.  There are loads of suggestions, and my guess is you'll find one that works for you and your toddler. This phenomenon of getting information from social media or online is now loosely referred to as crowd source parenting, using the 'wisdom of the crowds' to collect information.

gretchenGretchen Yoder is a single mom of a 15 year old son and 13 year old daughter and the Daily Deals editor for

created as an entertaining community resource for Colorado moms. The site includes regular posts by some of Colorado’s most popular mommy bloggers, an advice column, events, family travel, activities, regular giveaways, recipes, recipes and product reviews.

Yoder says editor Amber Borowski Johnson has pulled together a variety of bloggers who highlight parenting and family issues with a wide range of perspectives. When she runs into an issue she's not certain about Yoder uses a number of websites and chats on social media.  "There's an innate need to go with the crowd," she says, "to see if your way works.  For me, it's important to lead a varied life, and being online shows me the way I grew up is not the only way."

There are some who wonder if we've gone to far to entrust parenting decisions to bloggers and actually use responses from people we hardly know.  "I disagree," adds Yoder, "when I go online I see I'm not alone in this world.  Others are facing many of the same challenges."  One of her children is dyslexic, "so I search for blogs by parents of dyslexics, and for the most part, I really benefit from that information." The same goes for parents of children with a variety of issues.  Not only do you get information, but being part of a support network makes a world of difference.

Yoder says there are three ways she's found crowd source parenting really helpful.

  1. Validating your way of parenting. If you believe something slightly different from your friends/family you can find someone who will agree with you.
  2. Reminder that you are not alone. Despite what Facebook might say, not everyone's kids are perfect all the time. There are issues that someone is brave enough to tell the truth about.  Usually that's a blogger who can admit 'yes, there are times my kids and I don't get along, or my kid won't let me touch her hair or my kids fight and I'm not sure when to break it up,' whatever that is.
  3. Best Practices. I have found tips for all kinds of parenting things like a lukewarm bath to bring down fevers to making appointments for getting driver's permits/licenses. No matter what you are up against as a parent there are likely others who have had similar issues and found tips.

widget_custom_image_12_1407777509(pp_w200_h112)Jill Krause writes on her blog, Baby Rabies about toddler terror, trying to conceive, parenthood and a whole host of other topics.  Like many bloggers she offers very personal, raw stories of what she faces as a mother of three children.  And she's grateful to all those who she calls real friends, whether or not she's met them in real life.

My time as a mom on the internet has been like a lesson in human psychology, and it’s taught me a lot about myself and others. Over the past nearly 8 years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped shape me as a friend and mother, both on and off the internet. And I think they are pretty key to thriving in this online life that so many parents have.

My own social media connectivity and online education into how others deal with just about any issue has changed my comfort level in how I reveal details of my life.  As a reporter and anchor for so many years, I rarely shared more than a surface rendering.  My audience knew I gave birth to three sons, but that was about it.  Moving over to talk radio gave people a larger view of how I dealt with life.  And now in this new season as a blogger, living through a variety of ups and downs, I'm more open to highlighting a whole slew of good and bad moments.   We are all living in a new frontier where access to information, through the experiences of others, is like football's 12th man.  I've learned so much from those who've been willing to be real and have openly shared their journeys that I've decided I can follow their lead.                                                                                                                                                                                     

Lois’ Living Through It blogs are posted on Mondays and Thursdays.  Join her Monday mornings around 8:45am on Good Day Colorado.